23 internautes sur 23 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
E. R. Bird
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Doggone it, Katherine Paterson, stop making me cry! Under normal circumstances the number of books that make me tear up is a slim number that could be counted on one hand. And most of those books, if I was going to be honest with you, were probably written by Katherine Paterson. Ms. Paterson is a bit of a wonder. Year after year, decade after decade, she churns out consistently well-written meaningful pieces of children's fiction. The last book of Ms. Paterson's that I read was her rather remarkable, "The Same Stuff As Stars". Now, however, she's decided to traipse back into the world of historical fiction, alongside all the other authors this year, and produce a bit of fascinating history that can show a situation clear distinctions between good and bad, and yet leave enough room for people with nebulous motives. If complex narratives is the name of the game, consider Paterson a player.
On the one hand there's Jake. On the other hand there's Rosa. Both children live in Lawrence, Massachusetts in less than stellar conditions. For Jake, life is especially rough. His father's a drunkard who steals his son's money all the time and beats him senseless. And though Jake can usually make a little money in the local mills, it's rarely enough to keep him fed and warm. Rosa, in contrast, is relatively lucky. She lives with her mama, elder sister, and little baby brother in one of the city's many tenements. But life at the mill has been getting worse and worse and when it looks as if the mill owners are going to cut the workers' pay yet again, that's the straw that breaks the camel's back. Now Rosa's mother is joining in with the 1912 strike alongside workers from a variety of different backgrounds. And that might not be so bad except that Rosa is firmly convinced that her mama is putting their entire way of life in jeopardy. Her worst fears are confirmed too when her mother puts her on a train to Barre, Vermont to wait out the strike with a kind family there. On the train Jake meets up with Rosa and though they are only barely acquainted, he convinces her to say that he's her brother so that he can get out of town fast. As it happens, Jake has a secret he's trying to escape while Rosa has a life she's trying to remember.
Though it's clear from the get go that the mill owners are bad and the mill workers are good, Paterson works tirelessly to muddle the issue through Rosa's eyes. As far the girl is concerned, joining in the strike is dangerous and common. And Jake's no better a person with his constant schemes on how to get ahead and lie his way out of most situations. When he finds himself with the striking workers the book reads that, "This was the excitement of being a thief in the middle of hundreds of thieves, all set to steal away the world of Billy Wood", who is the mill's owner. In fact, you could probably say that there are few main characters out there half as self-centered as Rosa and Jake. For a long time all they think about is themselves. It takes a long time for them to get on that train headed for Vermont (150 pages or so), though once they do they're taken far enough away from what they're used to to think about something other than me me me. Rosa's schoolteacher Miss Finch is another complicated character. Unlike the mill schoolteacher in "Counting On Grace", Miss Finch is completely on the side of the owners. She doesn't want Rosa to be taken out of school, but she also encourages the children vehemently to keep their parents from striking. Rosa is, of course, completely on her teacher's side, and it's interesting to watch as Paterson pulls the child reader's strings back and forth and back again. She never tells her audience what to think and she doesn't have to. This book is an excellent example of "show, don't tell".
For those amongst us who don't know their American history as they should, I think I might not be the only one who thought that the title, "Bread and Roses, Too", meant that this story was a sequel. I know, I know. I'm a Neanderthal. I accept that. Really, it wasn't until the story showed how Rosa participated in naming the Bread and Roses Strike personally that I knew where the title even came from. Ms. Paterson, who is always good with clarification, mentions in the book's Historical Note at the end that no one really knows who came up with that phrase. She just took the liberty of assigning the job to Rosa, and it works like a dream.
Part of the privilege that comes with being a writer is that if you would like to set a book partly in your own hometown, you have that right. Ms. Paterson sets part of this book in Barre, Vermont where she herself lives. The people of Barre have long been known for the role they played in hosting the children of the Lawrence strikers. Ms. Paterson used all kinds of Barre historians to aid her in the writing of this book, and the result is a story that certainly gives the city its due. The writing for its own part is, of course, pitch perfect at all times. And while the book's first sentence is nothing to crow about, its last one is amazing. You won't understand much of what it means without having read the book, but I'll write it here just so you can get a taste of what Paterson's about. "How strange, how wonderful it semed to be running, not away from petty crime or deadly fear, but toward a new life where bread was never wanting and roses grew in stone."
It's interesting to note that Paterson doesn't go into the details of what working in a mill would entail in this book. We see the result of horrid working conditions rather than the cause. Technically she already showed the cause in her book "Lyddie". And if you happen to be desperate to read about what it was like for mill children, definitely seek out Elizabeth Winthrop's remarkable, "Counting On Grace". If children reading this book can get past Rosa's self-centeredness (she doesn't ever seem to get behind the strike until it seems as if she's named it herself) and they don't get bogged down in the story's first half, they'll be rewarded with a remarkable addition to the Paterson oeuvre. Reading "Bread and Roses, Too", makes you feel, when you are done, as if you've become a better person for the reading. A lovely little novel.
12 internautes sur 13 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Bread and Roses, Too is told from the alternating perspectives of two very different children. Jake Beale has faked his papers to work at the local mill, is largely illiterate, and spends most of his time running away from his abusive, drunken father. He respects no one, and sleeps literally in garbage heaps. Rosa Serutti is the daughter of Italian immigrants, and attends school, though her mother and older sister work in the mills. She's studious, prissy, and quiet, and worries a lot.
Though they have different backgrounds and experiences, both children find their lives turned upside down when the Lawrence mill-workers go on strike. To tell the truth, neither reacts well. Jake steals, lies, and fails to appreciate people's kindness to him. Rosa lectures her mother about the perils of striking, and slinks along on the fringes of the marches and demonstrations that arise, even as she is sometimes inspired by them. I didn't much like either child, early in the story. But things do get better. Eventually, Jake and Rosa's lives intertwine. Rosa is sent away to live in safety with a family in Vermont, and Jake escapes along with her, towing a dark secret.
All of the major events in the book are based on meticulously researched historical events (as detailed in a historical note at the end of the book). The Lawrence strikes are depicted as they happened, in terms of local and state responses, the presence of union organizers, and the humanitarian "vacations" provided for many of the mill-workers children. Barre, Vermont really did host several children from Lawrence during the strikes. A photo of the children inspired the author to look further into the story.
The historical detail does slow the book down a bit, especially in the early part, when Jake and Rosa are still in Lawrence. Because of this, I had a bit of trouble getting into this book. However, it won me over by the end, and had me in tears (in a good way). The two strongest aspects of the book, I think, are the depth of the immersion into the world of the immigrant mill-workers, and the complexity of the characterization.
Regarding the immersion, this is a book that will make readers feel lucky to have food, and warmth, and clean water, and not to have to worry about basic survival. Here's an example, when one of the Italian strikers buys lunch for Jake, giving him a platter of spaghetti:
"It was the most beautiful sight he had ever seen. The tomato sauce even sported a few bits of greasy sausage. Jake forgot the crowd around him, forgot the strike, forgot the menace that waited for him in the shack, and fell to, his nose almost in the steaming plate. He hadn't had a full platter of food to himself in his entire thirteen years of life."
None of the characters in this book are one-dimensional, with the exception of Jake's dad, who is largely off-screen. Rosa's teacher is not very nice to the children in her class, and she tries to coerce them to convince their parents not to strike. And yet... she travels though the violence-prone streets to ask why Rosa isn't coming to school anymore, and she ends up providing lunch every day for the kids who remain in her class. The man in Barre that Rosa and Jake are sent to stay with, Mr. Gerbati, starts out silent and grouchy, and especially resentful of Jake. But when Jake actually gives him reason to be disapproving, Mr. Gerbati displays unexpected kindness "like his flowers blooming from the cold gray granite." Rosa's mamma is uncouth and uneducated, and somewhat careless of her children, but she has a voice like an angel, and she wants better for her Rosa than she ever had. Isn't that the immigrant dream?
I think that the book is accurate in capturing Rosa's struggles as the "smart one" in an immigrant family. She wants to fit in with her family, but even though she's still a child, her education is taking her beyond them. She's the only one who reads and writes fluently in English. At one point she thinks:
"She would be an American, an educated, civilized, respected American, not a despised child of an immigrant race. When she grew up she'd change her name and marry a real American and have real American children. She wouldn't go out to work in a mill and leave them in the care of someone's old granny who couldn't even speak English. She'd stay home and cook American food and read them American books and ... But even as she thought these determined thoughts, somewhere in the back of her mind she could smell rigatoni smothered in tomato sauce with bits of sausage in it and could hear her mamma's beautiful voice singing Un Bel Di."
I think that there are plenty of immigrant kids today facing the same sort of conflict between the promise of being American and the pull of their own culture.
This is a book that I'll remember for a long time. There is so much unflinching detail: Jake sleeping in the garbage; the welts on Jake's back; the wide-eyed awe of the children when they visit the Gerbati's house for the first time; and the feeling that Rosa has of being part of something larger than herself, during the demonstrations. I think this is one of those books that gets better in your memory, the longer it stays with you. I hope that kids will be able to get past the "good for you" feeling of the early historical parts, because the story has a lot to offer.
This book review was originally published on my blog, Jen Robinson's Book Page, on February 8, 2007.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Mrs. Wilson-Tucker's Reading Classes
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Do you enjoy books with very interesting historical moments? Do you like stories with a lot of detail? Do you like to read in order to learn about something? Are you fond of novels that you can emotionally relate to? Then Bread and Roses, Too by Katherine Paterson is the perfect book for you.
The novel, Bread and Roses, Too by Katherine Paterson, is great historical fiction. If this book were a movie, it would be rated PG-13 because of the violence in this story. In a five star rating system I would give this book five stars.
Bread and Roses, Too takes place in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1912 during a mill workers' strike, which is perfect for history lovers. The main character in this story is Rosa, and she is scared that her mother and her sister Anna will get hurt while working in the mills. They are protesting for Anna's and other mill workers' rights. Those who feel that protesting is important would like this detail. Rosa decides to help protest for her family's rights, because they are Italian and Catholic, and the mill owners don't always treat them with the same respect, and many readers can relate to not being treated with full respect. Another main character in this story is Jake, and unlike Rosa, he likes mischief and getting into trouble. Jake's father dies, and the strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts is getting worse, and Rosa's mother decides to send Rosa to live in Barre, Vermont until the strike ends. Jake sneaks on the train as Rosa is leaving, and lives with Rosa's host family in Vermont. Rosa goes to school in her new home, and Jake helps Rosa and Jake's guardians at their job. The main conflict of this story is the upheaval in the lives of the characters because of the strike. Any reader who likes emotional ups and downs could easily relate to all of the changes both Jake and Rosa go through.
One of the best things about Bread and Roses, Too is that this book gave me a lot of historical information, a big bonus for people who like this in stories. Secondly, reading Bread and Roses, Too helped me to know what the mill workers were going through, and it gave me a lot of accurate information about their strike, a good quality for history fans. Lastly, reading Bread and Roses, Too gave me a lot of accurate information about the mill workers' lives. This information is a plus for people who like to read to gain more knowledge. I would describe Katherine Paterson's writing style as descriptive and informational, a good quality for history fans. Here is a quotation from the novel to show Katherine Paterson's writing style: "Jake went back out to the noisy street, chewing the sweet doughy bread, the second bun tucked under his shirt for later. It had begun to snow heavily and was likely to turn in a brute of snow before morning." My recommendation for Bread and Roses, Too is for anyone who is fond of books that provide a lot of historical information. Also, anyone who likes novels that you can emotionally relate to would like this story. The part that I felt was "wrong" with this story or the part that could have been taken out was the part where Annie Lopizzo, a mill worker, dies. This had nothing to do with the main conflict of the book or Rosa's story. I felt there were many other terrible things about mill life in this story that could have replaced this event, so this event wasn't needed. This is a book review of Bread and Roses, Too by Katherine Paterson, a great story that I recommend to all history fans, and people who like descriptive stories. Review by Theresa D.